Well, we have made it …. made it from all the challenging seasons and those special celebrations of the last few weeks to another cycle of ordinary Sundays.

As we take up the challenges and demands of the coming weeks I want to focus on one particular matter to which I will (with monotonous regularity?) return in many of the coming reflections.

So, while we are travelling the journey of the ordinary routine let us never sell ourselves short. It may well be that we have an ordinary routine but we ourselves are NOT ordinary (no false humility here). Each and every one of us is, in many real ways, EXTRAORDINARY. We live extraordinary lives. It does not matter how old we may be or how secluded our lives may be. Extraordinary we are as we live our extraordinary lives.

What is ordinary about loyalty, faithfulness, simple but authentic witness, perseverance (very often in the face of personal limitations and restrictions), and our determination to continue struggling along the route of our individual journeys?

The secret, of course, is to remain firmly planted in the house of the Lord. Take a look at the final stanza of the extract from TODAY’S PSALM [91 or 90]. “Planted in the house of the Lord they will flourish … still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap,still green …” I am suddenly reminded of a novel I read many, many years ago – HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. I have forgotten the name of the author {Richard Llewellyn???}. The story unfolds about a Welsh family living in a mining town whose inhabitants were, in the main, Chapel People – good, basic, Christian folk who (in the face of bad odds) struggled through really hard lives but were never oblivious to the beauty of their green valley. Many sophisticated and clever people would never have seen these lives as extraordinary – but extraordinary they were.

Now we must allow words from THIS SUNDAY’S FIRST SCRIPTURE [EZEKIEL 17: 22 – 24] to speak to us – each one personally. “I will take a shoot and plant it myself … it will spread branches and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar … (I will make) the low ones grow and the withered green. … I have spoken and I will do it.” Are we still looking for encouragement?! Do we still see ourselves living ordinary lives?!! Surely not?

Then comes Saint Paul in the NEW TESTAMENT READING [2 CORINTHIANS 5: 6 – 10]. “We are always full of confidence … intent on pleasing HIM.” Basically, Paul is telling us that no mater what, “we are full of confidence.”{that word confidence occurs twice in as many verses.}

However, we need to recognise that the confidence Paul writes about is essentially linked to the FACT that our lives and living are not limited to the present moment. There is something more (much, much more) involved. The Christian disciple knows with certainty that thereis a FUTURE! It is a future not only about the present time, but about the future in which there is no time. This is what urges us on – even in the face of our ineptitudes. As the apostle tells us our lives are extraordinary because we live “by faith and not by sight.” Always see the green of your present valley.

Now, OUR GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 4: 26 – 35] comes into play. If nothing else (but vitally) it tells us that the Kingdom is something which GROWS to fulfilment. Why? … because we grow, and we are growing the Kingdom! Nothing happens instantaneously – it is a process, a journey which involves the living of extraordinary lives. Extraordinary? …. because we throw Gospel seed on the land of our lives, it sprouts and grows, “how he does not know.”(go back to Ezekiel)

Perhaps one of our difficulties is that we want to know too much?! Do we have unrealistic expectations, forgetting that we live by faith, and not by sight?! Do you recall a comment made some weeks ago about our need to be wise, not merely well-informed?

You know, the mustard seed is an interesting phenomenon. It is not only a seed which grows into a tree, but is also used as a base for a dye – and a seasoning!!

There is a parable within each one of us, and we must learn to unravel our own parable.